So far this trip we have been so blessed with the weather that there hasn't really been a lot of weather, if you know what I mean. Just sunny, with the only variations being between warm, hot or very hot. Oh, well, it did pour with rain for one day back in Hilo, Hawaii, but it always rains in Hilo. Today, travelling south from Lubbock to our half-way point to Austin, a nice mid-sized (pop. 100,000) Texas town called San Angelo, we enjoyed a stack of weather along the way, and as we got through it all unscathed, we can happily tell you that it was fun out there. Here's how it unfolded...
Texas is enduring one of its worst droughts in a long time, hence all those bushfires you've been reading about in the news. Any rain is welcome, and they need lots of it to break the drought. But I don't need to explain this to Aussies. We all know about droughts. And so as we headed south from Lubbock, the long, straight and very flat roads offered up a series of thunderclouds such as this picturesque one. As the day wore on cute little lightning bolts flashed down, tickling the ground.
As the miles ground by and the thunderclouds formed, the horizon grew progressively murkier, until the committee of two in our car agreed that there was a dust storm up ahead. Oh joy! Sydneysiders will all remember the great dust storm of September 2009, which I blogged about here. We were going to drive through a dust storm, oh great.
And so we ploughed on into the murk, with Pam heroically snapping away within the car of course (she got some great shots of wet and grimy windscreens!) but with the wipers and washers working away she managed to capture some of the action quite well.
It was quite incredible to be within a thunderstorm (don't worry, the lightning wasn't remotely close) and a dust storm at the same time. Every now and then, by some very strange quirk of clouds, dust and wind, a hole in the sky above would allow in a shaft of sunlight to turn the dust into a glowing spotlight of orange. Mother Nature is just unmatchable down the awesome end of beauty.
Uh oh... what's that? We nervously reassured ourselves that this was no more than a willy willy, a dust devil, one of those little swirling, dusty mischief-makers of the plains, and that's what it turned out to be. But seeing it for the first time was a worrying thrill because it was, for a willy willy (...gulp) a big one. Don't break down, nice little Mazda, just keep on chugging through it all. And the Mazda did its duty.
Much more suddenly than it began, it was all over. It was as if we had burst through a brown curtain into sunnyland again. One moment rain and dust, the next brilliant sunshine, fair-weather fluffy cotton clouds and "what storm?".
We're loving Texas. Out here in West Texas the plains are as flat and wide as any Australian plain (think the Nullarbor or the Hay Plain) and the sky above feels enormous. It really is Big Sky Country.
Tomorrow we'll tell you a bit more about the town we're in again tonight, San Angelo. It's a great spot. Last night we headed out for the Sealy Flats Diner, a spot we knew nothing much about at all (the guy on the motel counter recommended it). Turns out it was a very cool blues bar and diner, lots of friendly people there, and though we were stupid enough to not take our camera with us, at least I did find a You Tube video (not the best quality, mind you) of the band we saw last night playing here at Sealy Flats, working up a storm on stage. And so I'll conclude this weather report with the Jimmy Rose band, live at Sealy Flats, San Angelo.